When was the last time you went to the movies without knowing what was on? Probably never.
Indeed, these days, because of the power and reach of multimillion-dollar movie promotion campaigns, you’re lucky if you don’t know the plot from start to finish before you get comfy in your theatre seat.
The Hidden Film Festival, coming to Toronto on July 27, turns convention on its head by asking audience members not only to come see a movie without knowing anything about it in advance, but also to become critics by tweeting, blogging, and telling the world at large about what they’ve seen. With screenings in Dublin, Paris, London, and Toronto during July, it’s hoped that the daring, experimental nature of the festival will attract attention to largely unseen flicks.
Gabrielle Leith, the festival’s international manager, hopes the exposure will create a new demand for independent film.
“The bottom line is that independent film lacks a platform that is easily accessible to the general public,” she said.
“Every once in a while, one will come along and dazzle audiences at a festival and make its way to the mainstream, however the bulk of them go unseen by the masses. By creating a global film festival celebrating independent talent, the festival is hoping to draw people’s attention to the fantastic films that they have been missing.”
But how can the festival ensure that people who attend will promote the movie?
Leith explains that in the lead-up to the screenings, the Hidden Film Festival is working to create an online community of people from all four cities, to get them intrigued and tuned into the festival before it even begins.
“Once it starts, we will be having a sort of ‘festival watch,’ where people can see how the event is going in other cities and watch as the hidden films become revealed,” she said.
During breaks at the screenings, a live Twitter feed will be projected on screens to encourage people to talk about what they’ve just seen.
“We will also have mock paper tweets where people can physically write down their comments, in case they don’t have the capacity to use a smartphone. These will be photographed and posted throughout the festival,” Leith said.
“Ideally, people will be able to share their thoughts around the world with others who have also just seen a relatively unknown independent gem.” According to Leith, since the Toronto festival is the last, it will be used as an opportunity to showcase the very best of the independent content.